Timelines 12/12/13

Piermont Train Station rental plans discussed
The Piermont Train Station has been a historic fixture of the village for decades, a status which has led some to question the Village Board’s idea to rent out the building as a private residence. The Village began to discuss the possibility of allowing the structure to serve a single-family rental at a Tuesday board meeting, when residents turned out largely to oppose the plan. Though Village trustees argued at the meeting that changes to the building would be minimal and the upper floor had been rented out for some time, residents chafed at the idea of renting out a piece of Piermont history. According to former village trustee Audie Moran, the building did not need to be used for anything in particular and could stand as a historic landmark alone, or could generate revenue in some other fashion. “I personally do not have a problem with it sitting empty,” Moran argued. “It is magnificent and everything does not have to have a purpose or use.” The rental plan might be pursued to help alleviate costs associated with renovation and upkeep. Annual upkeep for the building runs at about $4,000 and a recently-initiated restoration of the building which could cost anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000.

Two Rockland residents killed in separate accidents
Residents from Stony Point and Clarkstown were killed in two separate accidents last week, one of which was likely caused by the recent spate of wet weather. The first accident occurred when Nanuet resident Krystyna Izbinska, 64, was struck and killed by a car as she was crossing New Clarkstown Road in Nanuet on Wednesday evening at about 6 p.m. The second accident occurred in Stony Point on Thursday when Joseph Giarnella, a contractor with a business in the city, crashed into a guardrail and overturned close to the Route 45 intersection in Pomona. Police explained they believed Giarnella had just returned from the city and had just turned off the Palisades Interstate Parkway when he crashed. The Pomona crash is thought to have been caused by slick roads, though a failure of Giarnella to wear a seatbelt and subsequent partial ejection from the vehicle might have also contributed to his death.

Federal Judge: Evidence in Spring Valley corruption case cannot be disclosed until trial
Judge Kenneth Karas of the U.S. District Court in White Plains issued an order on December 4 prohibiting attorneys in the corruption case against former Spring Valley mayor Noramie Jasmin and former Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret from disclosing evidence about the case until a trial is underway. The decision was pursued by the prosecution, who argued a release of evidence could negatively impact their case. Though the defense’s legal counsel argued the prosecution had undermined its own case with the announcement of the arrests, the court sided with prosecutors. The ruling applies to Jasmin and Desmaret, who stand accused of accepting bribes from real estate developer Moses “Mark” Stern in exchange for their support for a Jewish catering hall project in Spring Valley. Also affected by the ruling are related corruption cases against former State Sen. Malcom Smith, New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran and former Queens GOP Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone.

NYC announces plans to confiscate rifles and shotguns
The NYPD recently issued 500 letters to New York City gun-owners imploring them to turn in their weapons in compliance with New York City municipal law. The letters were sent to owners of rifles and shotguns the city claims are not in compliance with a city ordinance prohibiting weapons with a capacity of more than five rounds. Gun owners were told they could surrender their weapons at a local precinct, modify them to be in compliance with the law or demonstrate they had been moved outside NYPD jurisdiction. Though the ordinance has been in place since 2010, this is the first time it is seeing widespread enforcement. It is a more stringent standard than that contained in the NY SAFE Act, which includes a seven round limit for pistols and long guns.

Rockland woman accused of having sex with student
Valley Cottage resident Meaghan White, 34, was recently arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old male student attending a school where she worked as a teacher. The alleged incident occurred at Willson’s Woods Park in Mount Vernon. White, who was employed as a teacher at Leake & Watts Residential Center for Troubled Youth, was discovered to have been involved with the student by the school, reported to the police and suspended without pay. Other alleged incidents involving sexual encounters between White and the student are also under investigation. According to Leake & Watts spokeswoman Meredith Barber, a pre-employment background check revealed no evidence of prior incidents. After her arrest, White was charged with felony third-degree rape and felony third-degree criminal sexual act. An initial hearing was held but no plea was entered by White and she was released without bail.

In apparent admission of guilt, gay NJ waitress refunds some money donated after receipt hoax
Former Rockland County resident Dayna Morales, who recently made headlines for lying about receiving a homophobic comment on her tip, is now returning money donated to her from across the country. Morales, who worked as a server at the Gallop Asian Bistro, posted a picture of a receipt with a note explaining the family she served stiffed her on a tip because of her sexual orientation. However, the family responded by posting their own copy of the receipt and bank statement, both of which show a tip. In the story’s fallout, Morales was released from her job at the restaurant after a mutual decision between her and her employer. Since then, Paypal users who donated money have begun to receive refunds. Though Morales initially stated she would donate the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project and a local LGBT community group, neither has reported receiving any donations. Employees and others close to Morales have characterized her as a compulsive liar who claimed she had served in Afghanistan and saw combat when she had, in fact, served at an installation in Romania as an administrative specialist.

Snowy owl influx might be on its way
A slew of winter visitors from Canada might be on their way in the form of snowy owls, a rare sight in Rockland County. According to Cornell University biologist Kevin McGowan, the largest-ever influx of snowy owls from further north, a movement termed an “irruption” is poised to occur this season. Normally, the owls reside in frozen arctic regions, but they will be travelling south in what is likely the first of several waves. The owls are attracted to open areas such as airports which resemble their natural tundra habitat. Hence, McGowan argued airports need to contact wildlife removal experts to prevent accidents related to their presence. According to him, the Port Authority of New York has already made moves to prevent complications from the birds’ arrival.

Cop on disability for injured sighted at gun range firing weapon
A New Jersey police officer on paid retirement for stapling his hand is now under scrutiny for an appearance at a gun range where he was using his injured hand to fire a high caliber rifle. Christopher Onesti was granted early retirement in 2008 after his staple injury allegedly made him unable to effectively use his service weapon. Though his doctors said he was “permanently and totally disabled” and began receiving a police pension, a recent video showed him firing a sniper rifle at a gun range, seemingly undeterred by his injury. Onesti responded by stating he did not believe the injury was serious enough to warrant his removal from his patrol, but believed he was entitled to disability benefits because NJ Transit refused to reassign him to a non-patrol position. A 2007 Supreme Court decision relaxed standards for such benefit payouts, meaning officers often receive them even with minor injuries. In response, John Sichero of the New Jersey Police and Fireman’s Retirement System pension board explained he would participate in a review of the decision to grant benefits to Onesti.

Pearl River School District approves new corporate tax deal
The Pearl River School District’s Board of Education approved a new 10-year agreement which will allow tax breaks on the 10 Corporate Drive property, an incentive often used to encourage business retention. The Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with pharmaceutical group Cerovene, Inc. lowers school taxes for the company over a 10 year period from 2014 to 2023. The deal, negotiated between Cerovene, the Town of Orangetown and the School District with the aid of the Rockland Industial Development Agency, was used as an incentive to draw Cerovene from its previous location in Valley Cottage. The deal also saved money for Orangetown through an agreement by the property’s previous owner to drop an existing tax challenge, saving anywhere from $60,000 to $120,000.

Train collides with car in West Nyack
A collision between a CSX train and truck on Pineview Road in West Nyack resulted in no fatalities, but but is currently under investigation. The accident occurred at about 11:40 a.m. on December 6. The truck was heading east as the train was heading north on the tracks, but the exact cause of the accident is still unknown. After hitting the train, the driver of the truck was thrown from the vehicle and was treated at Westchester Medical Center for multiple fractures. The train conductors sustained no injuries. In addition, two cars on the truck’s car carrier were totaled. Three other vehicles and a motorcycle sustained minor damage.